A cool tip on how to watch your language

Last week we discussed the negative connotation of the word “politics” and yet how important are political awareness and sensitivity to selling, negotiation, coaching and managing. Once you understand political power you can do simple things to make your ideas more compelling to others. Today I’ll give you a cool tip.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedPolitics is not the only word that evokes a negative connotation. One might argue that “freedom fighter” has a positive connotation and that “terrorist” has a negative connotation. It may also be that they’re the same thing, just called by different names.

So if I’m stumbling around for just the right word in a speech or private conversation, I know that I have choices of many different words I could use.  People who are politically astute use care in all word selection, because they know the power of the selected word can influence the emotions of the listener, and people buy based on emotion.

I do an experiment in my negotiation workshops in which I ask the learners to make lists of words they commonly use in negotiations in order to advance their cause. Why is this important? Negotiations are often delicate and it would be foolish to select words that may cause offense. Here are some of the words my groups have come up with:

Solution, fairness, your idea(s), resolve, reasonable, amicable, helpful, let me share, discuss, achieve, validate, and tell me about.

These words and phrases are like a lubricant to advance the conversation, maintaining the well-being, positive energy and engagement of your counterpart in the negotiation.

I then ask the group to give me a list of the words and phrases that do not work. Some of these will make you wince:

Problem, your problem, argue, argument, I need, disagree, audit, unacceptable, non-starter, deny, reject, disapprove, dispute, non-negotiable, useless, final offer, off the table.

Get the point?

I’ll bet you know people who don’t understand the distinction and are so full of themselves that they often use the second set of words in many sensitive conversations, where simple changes in word choices could make their position more compelling.  This week a friend of mine told me he couldn’t help it that he is “brutally honest,” as though one cannot be honest and kind, only honest and brutal.

These are the people about whom others will say, “He has no filter,” meaning they don’t understand the impact their words have on others’ feelings.  Don’t you be that person.  Choose your words carefully and watch your language. It’s an effective way to…

Think Like Your Customer

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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